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4.3.04

Wyoming Has Gas

Energy Boom Has Wyoming Coffers Overflowing

... While many other states are still struggling to find their financial footing after years of budget turmoil, Wyoming's tiny government is awash in cash.

... The tax transfusion is driven by the energy industry, as most things in Wyoming tend to be. Extraction of natural gas, especially through the process called coalbed methane mining, has boomed, and gas prices have surged at the same time. Wave has built upon wave, resulting in what budget officials now expect will be about $1.2 billion more in tax revenues over the next two years than the state had anticipated.

... [Governor Dave] Freudenthal, a Democrat, has argued that a structural change in the energy business, notably the recent completion of some big pipeline projects in Wyoming, creates at least the possibility of a long-term wave that could keep the tax money flowing for years.

If that happens, the governor said in an interview, Wyoming will have an obligation to start thinking more broadly about the consequences and costs of the boom — and the energy extraction that produces it — in order to protect wildlife and environmental quality for generations.

... Republican leaders in the Legislature say the evidence is not convincing that this economic cycle will be different. High gas prices cannot last, they say, especially in a presidential election year, when pressures are likely to be intense from Washington to bolster the national economy, which is dominated by energy buyers, not sellers.

-- via The Hamster


Now there's a new argument against environmental regulations -- "don't worry, the economy will collapse." But maybe that's Bush's devious strategy -- rather than going head-to-head with polluting industry, he gives them short-term favors that undermine the long-term economy of the nation. It worked splendidly for Russia, where the post-Soviet collapse allowed them to easily meet their Kyoto targets.

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